Pope Francis made news last week when it was reported that he called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an "angel of peace."  After some back and forth, including claims that the Pope had been mistranslated, the Vatican clarified that the Pope meant no offense to Israel and that the phrase he had used was more like "A little bit an angel of peace."  The whole incident plays on important questions about Abbas's background and record as well as the role the Vatican should play among other governments that recognize a Palestinian state. However, what struck me was the choice of the word angel and the meaning of inserting this language, even if just a "bit", into the political conversation about peace.  


While the word angel almost always conjures up images of winged beings, luminescent in purity perhaps accompanied by a harp, the word itself in Italian, as well as in both English and the Hebrew equivalent means messenger.  According to the most basic definition, an angel, for anyone, would require being nothing but a carrier of the will of G*d with no backstory or baggage, no personal agenda, no identity whatsoever.  Obviously neither Mahmoud Abbas or any other human being could be one.  The question is should we want to be one? the rest



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